08 September 2008

September snippets

  • I have added another blog to my sidebar: The Idea File. The author is my emeritus colleague at McMaster University, Dr. Janet Ajzenstat, author of, among other things, The Once and Future Canadian Democracy. A few years back she and I exchanged views on Canada's constitution.

  • Downtown Hamilton is the location of an intriguing, recently-formed intentional community, some of whose members have connections with Redeemer. Read about them here: All for one: A communal, 'intentional community' has taken root in Kirkendall. We wish them God's blessings on their efforts at living a life together and reaching out to the surrounding neighbourhood.

  • Richard John Neuhaus, a Catholic convert from Lutheranism, offers some insight into the singular attraction evangelicals in the US have towards a civil religion that puts their nation at its centre:
    A peculiarity of the American experience is that, in the absence of an ecclesiology that tethered them to the Church through time, for many American Protestant thinkers, America became their Church. That was true then, and it is true now. More than three hundred years later, in yet another reversal that they describe as radical, some evangelical theologians, notably those influenced by my friend Stanley Hauerwas, today depict America not as the Church nor as the precursor of the New Jerusalem but as Babylon. . . . Whether America is depicted as the anticipation of the New Jerusalem or as its antithesis, whether America is the precursor or the enemy of the City of God, what such thinkers have in common is the lack of a clear connection to the Church in continuity with the Christian story through time.
    This is a trenchant observation. That said, one wonders whether Neuhaus can find a modest place for the American body politic as a community bound together by the mandate to do public justice. This would be a great improvement over his often expressed Lockean notion of the state and his habitual appeals to a supposed American exceptionalism.

  • From a quite different standpoint Brian Walsh has contributed this thoughtful piece to the Empire Remixed blog: To Hell With Romans 13. My question is similar to that for Neuhaus: can we find in Walsh's remarks a coherent political theory recognizing a normative task for the state? As for Romans 13, it seems to me that an appropriate interpretation would have to begin with Paul understanding that, while government frequently abuses its God-given authority, it still operates within a normative framework within which authority and obedience find their proper place.

  • It's off to the polls for Canadians: Federal election called for Oct. 14. And, uh, what happened to our fixed election dates? I don't recall Stephen Harper's government being defeated on a confidence motion.

  • Preliminary genealogical research indicates that John McCain, Barack Obama and Sarah Palin are all distant cousins to each other. Then again, so are you and I.

  • An independent Republic of Vermont? Some think it would be a good idea: Breaking Out of the Empire Box. Check out their website: Second Vermont Republic, whose links page includes the League of the South, the Republic of Cascadia and, of course, our own Parti québécois.
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